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Bahrain doctors imprisoned for condemning violence, treating injured

Eleven Bahraini doctors and medics face prison terms of up to 15 years after the country’s High Court of Criminal Appeal upheld convictions stemming from anti-government protests last year. In a case that has sparked international outcry about the treatment of health workers by the Bahrain government, nine practitioners from the Salmaniya Medical Complex in the capital Manama are to be jailed for between one month and five years, while another two earlier sentenced to 15 years imprisonment have had their appeals rejected.

01 Jul 2012

Eleven Bahraini doctors and medics face prison terms of up to 15 years after the country’s High Court of Criminal Appeal upheld convictions stemming from anti-government protests last year.

In a case that has sparked international outcry about the treatment of health workers by the Bahrain government, nine practitioners from the Salmaniya Medical Complex in the capital Manama are to be jailed for between one month and five years, while another two earlier sentenced to 15 years imprisonment have had their appeals rejected.

The medical staff were charged by Bahrain authorities with illegal gathering, calling for the overthrow of the government by force and instigating hatred against another sect after they treated an influx of patients injured during anti-government protests in February and March last year.

Accusations against a further nine health workers have been dropped.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has condemned the charges and convictions as politically motivated, and the organisation’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hasiba Hadj Sahraoui, has called for them all to be quashed.

“These are politically motivated charges against meical professionals who were working to save lives amid very trying circumstances,” Ms Sahraoui said. “The real reason for targeting these health professionals is the fact that they were very vocal in denouncing the excessive force used by the security forces against peaceful protesters to the international media, and exercised their rights to freedom of expression and association during marches and protests.”

One of the accused, Ghassan Dhaif, credited international pressure with forcing the regime to cut his prison sentence from 15 years to 12 months, but called for efforts to be sustained until all charges were withdrawn.

“I brought in six witnesses who deny these allegations,” Mr Dhaif told Amnesty International. “All the charges, and the trial itself, has been politicised, and I am being punished for speaking to the press.”

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against nine of their colleagues – though it reduced quashed has up


Published: 01 Jul 2012